Everything You Need to Know When Choosing Your Arizona Senior Portrait Photographer
Class of 2024, it’s time to plan senior pictures, and you need a professional photographer! What do you do?
You could open your favorite search engine, click on a random name, and hope for the best. That’s probably the quickest option, but we all know that kind of search doesn’t always net the best results. If you’ve ever chosen a stranger to give you a haircut…and later walked away looking like you’d been shorn with your pup’s dog shears…then you KNOW the regret that can follow when you choose the wrong professional for YOU.
Out of Thousands of Photographers, Find the ONE for You
Before you even start to sift and sort through the sea of photographers, it’s wise to educate yourself as a future client and KNOW what you’re looking for. There are tons of options when it comes to sessions, settings, and end products, so upfront research is your friend! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and chat openly with professionals you’re considering for the job. After all, they want to be sure they’re right for you, too.
I’ve been a professional photographer for over 14 years, and it’s important to me that my clients and I have a connection that works for BOTH of us. Why? Because if my clients don’t feel comfortable and excited to be in front of my camera, they won’t be relaxed enough to get the amazing images they are expecting—and my number one goal is to deliver a fabulously FUN session, as well as memorable, high-quality photos everyone will love.
What to Look for in Your Professional Photographer
I’ve learned that it’s more fun for everyone if we’re all on the same page. When client and photographer expectations are balanced, everyone wins!
So what do you look for in a professional photographer? What questions do you ask ahead of time? What information do you need to make your decision?
Consider these 5 Ways to Choose the Best Photographer for You before you choose a professional for your once-in-a-lifetime senior session. These tips will help you decide who is the best photographer for you:
Tip #1: Peruse Their Portfolio
Once you’ve found a photographer you’re pretty sure you love, be sure to hop onto their website and other online platforms to check out their work! Browse their portfolio and read about some of their sessions that really appeal to you. Do you see some stuff you really love? See some poses, locations, creative styles that look like they’re right up your alley? That’s good! It’s key to really like a professional photographer’s previous work and style. I always make sure my seniors get unique and individual sessions that are like no one else’s, but you can definitely get a feel for my creative style and artistic flair in my senior picture galleries. And yes, even MORE ideas over on Pinterest!
Pro Tip: Be sure to decide if you want studio images, outdoor images, or a combination. Some photographers only offer one or the other. Some photographers can shoot at indoor locations, some can only shoot in outdoor natural light.
Tip #2 Choose a Pro
Photography is fun—that’s why I do it! It can be tempting to grab your BFF or Uncle Bart or anyone with a smartphone to snap some pics, but trust me on this. I’ve taken numerous classes and professional development courses to ensure I’m up-to-date with the latest on styles, techniques, and processes so I can give my clients the most cutting-edge photographs and products. Your graduation photos are a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so give yourself the gift of hiring a professional…and save the outtakes and selfies for ball games and PJ parties. When you see the final outcome, you’ll be glad you did!
Pro Tip: Check to see if your photographer is licensed and insured. (I am!) Also look to see if they’ve been published or if they’re a member of professional organizations. I’ve been published in several teen & senior magazines since 2014 and have images featured both nationally and internationally, plus I’m an active member of PPA.
Tip #3: Meet Your Photographer in Person
Most of all, be sure to choose a senior photographer that fits your personality. I offer free in-person consultations for all my clients because I know how important it is for us to get to know each other before your session! It gives us a chance to talk, and you can share more about your likes and dislikes, clothing style, and help choose locations that fit your style! Your ideal photographer won’t rush you—at the consultation or at the session itself. Look for a photographer who doesn’t rush you, but instead focuses on the fun factor of the entire experience. At Magical Memories by Michelle, I want you to have a blast from the beginning of your senior picture planning to the reveal of the very last image! My goal is for you to feel comfortable, and that’s so much easier if we meet in person, get to know each other, and talk through all the fun things you want to do during your session.
Tip #4: Ask About Photo Editing
Hang onto your seats…I’m about to reveal a big photography secret right now. Ready? Here goes. Professional senior pictures are edited. (Or at least they should be, and so should your other professional pics.)
And THAT is precisely why you need to ask about a photographer’s editing process! If you don’t choose the right photographer, you could end up with a couple of different issues. You could have pictures that come back with little to NO editing, in which case, sorry about that chin zit that appeared on the day of your photo shoot. Or, you could end up with a photographer who OVER-edits, and I don’t even need to tell you how unnatural that can look!
Know that ALL digital images need some basic editing, and that is where many photographers stop. The images that come straight from the camera (called RAW files) can’t even be opened by most people. They take processing to turn them into a jpg that you can view.
Beyond these initial steps, it’s important to know about your photographer’s EDITING STYLE. This is why it’s key to ask HOW they will edit your pictures.
When I edit for my high school seniors, I make sure their photos never look fake. I want to make them look like their natural, beautiful selves. I do, however, look out for things like skin imperfections, stray hairs that may have blown in front of their eyes, and other tiny details. I also take into consideration clients who are looking for a more artistic feel. I don’t believe in airbrushing or making anyone look unrealistic, and all images are professionally retouched by hand (not actions or filters) to brighten your smile, smooth your skin, remove redness, and touch up scars and blemishes to allow your personality to shine through. Check out this before and after example below.
Tip #5: Learn About Product Offerings
Have you thought about what kinds of products you want to order after your photo session? Do you want digitals only, designer products you can display and gift to family members—or both? Do you want to order products yourself, or do you want someone to take care of it all for you?
Maybe you want a huge portrait over the fireplace, or maybe you’d prefer a collage of multiple images. You can even select products that allow you to easily swap out multiple images. During your Image Premiere and Ordering Session, we’ll sort through all your pictures, discuss what products fit your needs, design graduation announcements and grad party invitations, and even look at gifts your friends and family will love!
Pro Tip: Most seniors LOVE to choose a keepsake product for themselves to commemorate their high school years! Many love to have their own storyboard, keepsake book, or metal print. And everyone loves the personalized mobile app, which allows you to show off and share your senior pictures on social media. For your safety, these images are watermarked and ready to share directly from your phone! If you’ve purchased the senior video, that is available in your app too!
After that, all you have to do is sit back and relax…and worry about the million other things going on during senior year! My clients (especially moms!) love the fact that once your session is done, I don’t just leave you hanging. I’ll take care of every step from start to finish so you don’t have to stress about it!
And there you have it…5 Ways to Choose the Best Photographer for You! It just takes a little research, some super-fun portfolio perusing, and a bit of upfront diligence to ensure you’re hiring a pro who fits your personality and aligns with your creative photo goals.
Now get out there and enjoy your senior year…oh yeah, and don’t forget to book your senior photoshoot! It’s never too early to get on the calendar!